On Wednesday night fans were treated to a pleasant walk down memory lane as a whole host of former, and current, players took to the field for Vincent Kompany’s Manchester City testimonial.
There was nostalgia emanating from every blade of the Etihad pitch, as players to have donned the Citizens’ blue took on a Premier League All-Stars side in an entertaining 2-2 draw. All the proceeds from the clash went towards Tackle4MCR, a charity Kompany set up with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to help with homelessness in the city.
The sheer quality of football on show from the ex-pros on the night got us think: how many former players could still cut the mustard in the Premier League?
A good few, I’d say. Here are six of them.
Sure, he never played in the Premier League, but there is no questioning that Clarence Seedorf could still cut it among the best in the top divisions. Winning the Champions League on three occasions, the Dutch machine certainly has the experience to handle the rigours of English football.
With a shot so hard it could cross dimensions, and a passing range so accurate he could pick out Raheem Sterling in a field of Joel Matips, question his quality at your peril.
Now 43 years old, that makes for little difference when you consider he’s built like a brick sh*t house. I mean, the guy is enormous. No amount of Adama Traore argy-bargy is ridding him of possession.
OK, so he’s landed the biggest job of his career to date and is in charge of his beloved Chelsea on the grandest club stage of all. But, that doesn’t mean he isn’t still the goalscoring midfield dynamo he once was.
It would be fitting. The Blues are under a transfer embargo and are are unable to sign any players for a year at least, so why not thrust one of the old guard into the side in a Kompany-esque role?
Perhaps the fitness levels aren’t what they once were, but that thunderbolt right peg of his would do damage nevertheless. Furthermore, in such youthful side, what could be better than a seasoned professional who won all there to win at a club? It’s something the manager should at least take a look at…oh, wait.
So wonderfully well-spoken, yet so frighteningly attentive on the pitch, Xabi Alonso would walk straight into most midfields in England. Trademark cross-field passes were a forte of his, and considering to do so he doesn’t actually need to run that much, he could still star in the Premier League.
Two years on from his retirement he now coaches at Real Sociedad, but there is no denying he could still rip it up at Burnley on a cold, wet Wednesday night.
Having retired some 13 years ago, what is still abundantly clear is that Tottenham‘s manager is still more than capable of kicking a ball around with consummate ease.
Now a hugely successful manager, a skill session with YouTube freestylers F2 a few years back proved he could still be a valuable asset on the pitch, as well as off of it.
With Jan Vertonghen now 32 years old and Toby Alderweireld’s future far from certain, there’s no reason why the Argentine couldn’t slot effortlessly into the Spurs backline.
As began to lose any sort of pace he ever had, Michael Carrick found himself operating further down the pitch as his career wound down. Essentially finishing his career as a centre back, the former Manchester United still shows glimpses of his ability to dictate the tempo of a match whenever he’s on a pitch.
Naturally, having taken a step back from on-field matters, he took up a first-team coaching role at Old Trafford. However, with a Red Devils midfield looking thin on the ground, the now 38-year-old could easily do a job for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and offer an experienced head to an otherwise untested midfield.
There’s no questioning his fitness, either. Carrick completed the Great North Run in a stupidly quick time before heading down to Manchester to take part in Kompany’s testimonial, where he looked as assured as ever. They make ’em tough up north.
While everyone watching proceedings at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night were doing so to honour a club legend and contribute to a meaningful cause, not one person can honestly say they weren’t in total awe of Paul Scholes.
At 44 years old, the only noticeable difference during the game between the ginger maestro and the Scholes of yesteryear was a slightly enlarged belly. Other than that, he still oozed the class that prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to bring him out of retirement for one final crack of the whip.
Just watch that touch above. Drink it in. Really, can anyone safely say the level of ball control and inch-perfect passing ability Scholes possesses wouldn’t put him above, say, Granit Xhaka at Arsenal? Nope, didn’t think so.